Photos: The journey to Abu Dhabi for one Special Olympics powerlifter
When Sylvester Vermillion started powerlifting five years ago, he discovered that he was stronger than he thought he was -- and at the Special Olympics World Games, he's going to show the world that strength.
Special Olympics competitors rose up in Abu Dhabi
A dream come true for Nette Tuominen
For Nette Tuominen, the journey from her home in Finland to the grand stage of the 2019 Special Olympics World Games took 13 years of hard work. And now it's all paying off.
Daimi Aza Rodriquez, the gymnast with potential
The early years were difficult for Puerto Rico's Daimi Aza Rodriquez, but she found focus though Special Olympics.
Ashton Smith swims for inclusion
Special Olympics athlete Ashton Smith wants to see swimming become a more inclusive sport. "You don't let society dictate what you cannot do," she said.
A conversation with the 'First Family' of Special Olympics
Robin Roberts sits down with the five children of Special Olympics founder Eunice Kennedy Shriver.
To belong, the opening to the Special Olympics World Games
Gwendoline Christie welcomes the world to the United Arab Emirates for a global celebration of acceptance and inclusion achieved through athletic competition.
The friendship that changed Erin Green's life forever
Born profoundly deaf, Special Olympics swimmer Erin Green doesn't trust anyone but her coach to guide her during important races. And that trust extends outside of the pool, too.
Great Britain's Kiera Byland lives for bicycle racing
The distance Great Britain's Kiera Byland has come on a bicycle pales in comparison to the distance she has come off of it.
New Zealand honors terror victims at Special Olympics World Games
Over the weekend, athletes, coaches and staff at the Special Olympics World Games in Abu Dhabi paid tribute to the victims of the mass shooting at two mosques in New Zealand.
An angel found her wings
Abandoned as a baby, Michelle "Angel" Athenas has an innate ability to survive, and now she's thriving as a Special Olympics powerlifter -- with the gold medals to prove it.
A new way of life for Khadija Sy
When Senegal's Khadija Sy discovered Special Olympics, it changed her life. "She's confident, she has friends, she's doing what she wants," says her mother.
Special Olympics coach Mary Roberts is all in
For Mary Roberts, the Arizona Unified basketball team is a second family -- and the athletes she coaches agree. "She's like a second mother," says Jeffrey Anthony, a Unified basketball player.
The bond that broke down barriers for Robert Moore
As a young child, Robert Moore could not walk or talk. But a connection with horses -- and a loving home -- opened up his world, and now he is at the Special Olympics World Games representing the U.S. in equestrian sports.
A life-changing connection for Robert Moore
Diagnosed with autism at a young age, Special Olympics equestrian Robert Moore found comfort and healing while riding horses.
Voices: Every day is Thanksgiving for Mallory Morris
For one track and field star headed to the Special Olympics World Games, the list of challenges pales in comparison with the list of things she's grateful for.
Mallory Morris has been running since birth
Born premature as the lead quintuplet, the Special Olympics track star from Kansas hopes to be first again at the World Games in Abu Dhabi.
Special Olympics athletes prepare for World Games
Omar Al Shami and many other Special Olympics athletes look to showcase their skills in the upcoming World Games in Abu Dhabi.
Competing in Abu Dhabi a dream come true for Harmon
For 37-year-old Jon Harmon, the bowling alley has always been "his place," and he will be taking his talents to the upcoming World Games.
Myers excited to represent United States at World Games
Competing in power lifting, Josh Myers will be representing the United States in the upcoming World Games.
Rosa's Law a story of inspiration and determination
In 2009, Rosa Marcellino and her family set out to abolish the 'R' word once and for all. The enactment of Rosa's Law was the culmination of their efforts.
Sign the Inclusion Pledge and choose to include
The first Special Olympics Games debuted in the summer of 1968, and now 50 years later, we encourage you to #ChooseToInclude people with intellectual disabilities.
Special Olympics helps free teenager from isolation
Special Olympics helped save 16-year-old Niyibikora Malachie, who has an intellectual disability, from physical confinement, and now the young man is sharing his passion for soccer and track in his own words.
Snowboarders Teter, Shilts share unbreakable bond
Unified Sports brings people together from all walks of life
Stephanie McMahon tells the story of Unified Sports from its beginnings to its international reach today.
Bogucki is a one-of-a-kind athlete
Bree Bogucki, a track athlete for Tennessee Wesleyan, travels and serves in her capacity as a Special Olympics Global Messenger.
Special Olympics athlete makes emotional par
The power of being Loretta Claiborne
Growing up, Loretta Claiborne heard every kind of insult about her intellectual disability. But the former Special Olympics athlete-turned-advocate didn't allow the bullying to define her life.
Loretta Claiborne making her voice count
For more than 40 years, Loretta Claiborne has been a voice for people with intellectual disabilities. She has traveled the world as an ambassador for change, but her voice has not always been heard.
Puerto Rico overcoming hardships of Hurricane Maria
After the devastation of Hurricane Maria, coach Omar Alvarez and the Special Olympics community in Puerto Rico have worked hard to rebuild and work toward making the 2019 World Games in Abu Dhabi.
Best Buddies brings diversity to the workplace
Best Buddies helps people with intellectual disabilities find jobs. Peter Mullin, an employee of the Washington Wizards, is just one person who has benefited from the program.
How one woman changed Senegal's view on intellectual disabilities
Rajah Diouri Sy's daughter Khadija was born with Down syndrome, but through their involvement in the Special Olympics, they are breaking down the stigma around intellectual disabilities.
Ken Melvin more than just a Special Olympics athlete
Ken Melvin dreamed of serving his country in the military, but because of his intellectual disability, he couldn't pass the test to get in. With the help of Special Olympics and his family, he gained the confidence and support he needed to try again.
Actor McGinley a parent with a megaphone
Three high-profile parents with the personal experience of raising a child with an intellectual disability are sharing a larger game-changing message of acceptance and understanding with sports as an integral component.
Mohapatra making life-changing difference with swimming
Arpita Mohapatra has made it her personal mission to give swim lessons to as many people as she can, especially those with intellectual disabilities.
Jamie Brewer is a game changer
Jamie Brewer is changing the landscape for those with Down Syndrome, acting in movies and on Broadway, modeling and working to change legislature language in Texas against the "R" word.
SOfit is a health and wellness program for everyone
At Special Olympics Minnesota, Ben Swarts created and worked with Special Olympics Health Ambassador Nell Coonen-Korte on a program that could involve all people and would spread worldwide.
La Casa de Carlota is a business of change
La Casa de Carlota is a successful design studio with a client list that includes a professional soccer league comprised of people with intellectual disabilities, and they have a very unique characteristic that really sets them apart from most companies.
Brighton High School a leader in the inclusion revolution
ESPN's Top 5 Unified Champion Schools for 2018
Which Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools made the Top 5 in the ESPN Honor Roll? See who the winners are here.
Which schools will receive national banner presentations?
Kevin Negandhi reveals the five Special Olympics Unified Champion schools that will receive a national banner presentation.
The personal side of Special Olympics for Tim Shriver
As the Special Olympics turns 50 years old today, Tim Shriver -- chairman of the organization and son of founder Eunice Kennedy Shriver -- reflects on the beginning of the movement and where he sees it in another 50 years.
Shriver: 'I hope people see that everybody has a gift'
Special Olympics chairman Tim Shriver reflects on a culture that hasn't always been big on inclusion and expresses his hope that it changes.
Athletes at Special Olympics Unified Cup overcome their 'impossibles'
Sarah Spain sits down with Special Olympics athlete Emanuelle Dutra Souza and Olympic bobsled driver and Special Olympics ambassador for Nigeria and Africa Seun Adigun to discuss how they found the strength to overcome obstacles in their lives.
The Faces of the Victors
There is experience and camaraderie of the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games, but there is also the many stories behind the winners' smiles. Here, we share a few of them.
Athlete living every day by the Special Olympics oath
For paddle boarder Mariah Gilbert, the Special Olympics oath holds a special place in her heart, one that represents the changes in her life.
Special Olympics allow father, son to bond during trying times
For Chris and Ray Harold, their time on the golf course at the Special Olympics USA Games, goes beyond golf. It's about savoring every last moment together.
Tagliareni a role model for all athletes
Special Olympics Florida athlete Brittany Talgliareni followed her brother into tennis and hasn't looked back since.
Lapre: 'I'm never quitting'
A Special Olympics athlete since 1968, Paul Lapre will be living out a dream by playing in this year's games in Seattle.
Powerlifter Gruss makes a habit of overcoming odds
Special Olympics powerlifter Catherine Gruss has overcome many challenges and doubters en route to competing in Seattle.
Poll's positive spirit an asset for UWM
As both a manager and super-fan for multiple University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee teams, Michael Poll has left a lasting mark on everyone he's met.
From Special Olympics play to the workplace
Special Olympics International Global Messenger David Egan says, "I am proud to have a job; I pay taxes, I vote and I matter." And he's sharing that message at the job fair at the USA Games.
Photos: The moments that show Special Olympics athletes are unstoppable
The Special Olympics USA Games have been full of dramatic and inspirational finishes. But these moments and stories are the ones we will not forget.
Ex-NFL OT Roberts is a champion for Special Olympics athletes
Ray Roberts used to open pathways for Barry Sanders as an offensive tackle for the Detroit Lions. Now he's helping create pathways for athletes with intellectual disabilities.
The Schmidts are all in the family
Mike Schmidt felt right at home when he started playing Special Olympics sports. Since then, his two brothers and his parents have joined him on the basketball court -- and they're all headed to the USA Games.
For Special Olympics swimmer Jessica Grammer, 'dreams do come true'
When Jessica Grammer learned she was going to the USA Games, she screamed a celebratory 'Yes!' And her swimming prowess isn't the only thing she contributes to Team Missouri.
'I matter, I exist, and I have a right to play,' says Tyler Lagasse
For Special Olympics athlete Tyler Lagasse, golf is more than a sport. It's a chance to send the world a message -- and change perspectives.
Foudy's Finds: Special Olympics athlete has run 30 marathons
Julie Foudy goes for a run with Special Olympics athlete Andy Bryant who was once told he would never be able to walk across the street by himself. Now he's an elite marathon runner.
Foudy's Finds: Fab Five
Members of the Kentucky Special Olympics Gymnastics team receive uplifting messages from their Olympic heroes.
A fish called JoJo
Jolina Harris, affectionately called JoJo by her family, was drawn to the water as a young child. The ocean was her playground -- and her solace. Now a 12-year-old, she finds that peace in the pool as a Special Olympics swimmer.
JoJo Harris finds peace in the water
Growing up in the Marshall Islands, JoJo Harris was always drawn to the water. After relocating to Las Vegas, JoJo joined the UNLV swim program and will now compete at the Special Olympics.
Meet Divine Pearl Navalta, aka The Sparkling Diva
The Special Olympics runner earned that nickname from her friends because of her fun, outgoing personality -- and now at the USA Games, she's channeling that energy on the track to win gold.
Blind Special Olympics athlete Ben Collins showed me his worldview
Ben Collins can see only shadows and shapes, and he handles with aplomb a commute from Maryland to Washington, D.C., to work at the Special Olympics headquarters.
Collins: 'Don't underestimate me in sports and in life'
As both a manager and super-fan for multiple University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee teams, Michael Poll has left a lasting mark on everyone he's met.
Seth Hanchey's marks of strength
A catastrophic accident took so much from Seth Hanchey, including his ability to speak. Special Olympics weightlifting gave so much back: the motivation to recover, the drive to compete, the power to inspire. Here, his mother tells his story.
Seth Hanchey mending body and soul through powerlifting
After being struck by a vehicle and suffering a severe brain injury in 2011, Seth Hanchey has made a remarkable recovery and is competing in powerlifting at the Special Olympics.
Special Olympics all about love and inclusion
Special Olympics athletes give first-hand accounts of both how they are treated and how they want to be treated.
Drummond delivers heartfelt message to Special Olympics athletes
Pistons center Andre Drummond shares a bond with the Detroit-based Special Olympics Michigan basketball team.
Griffin, Spieth among famous faces in Unified Sports Challenge
Jen Lada explains how the Special Olympics Unified Sports Challenge brought together a variety of athletes for a great cause.
Special Olympics athlete Andrew Peterson was born to run
When Andrew Peterson's father adopted him at 5 years old, the boy could barely hold a fork. He just needed someone to believe in him -- and now the marathon runner does the rest.
SC Featured: Special Olympics runner deserves your respect
Born with fetal alcohol syndrome, 25-year-old Andrew Peterson became a three-time Special Olympics gold medalist after his father helped him find his voice and passion.
The Special Olympics are a family affair for the Oehlmans
Dustin and Danielle Oehlman met at a Special Olympics practice nearly 20 years ago. Now, with their children cheering them on, they're headed to the USA Games (July 1-6) in Seattle.
USA Games: How to watch, news and coverage
Find the details, news coverage and results for the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games
Acceptance and inclusion key to Kennedy Shriver's life
Full list of 2017 ESPYS winners
The 2017 ESPYS celebrates the best in sports, with awards given by the fans.
The Games have ended, but the 'brave attempt' lives on
There are great stories everywhere. Parents who love their kids. Athletes who've overcome odds. But it doesn't happen every day, several times a day, as it does at the World Games.
Shikha, Shubham's 'special' homecoming
India's Shikha Rani and Shubham Shokeen narrowly missed out on a medal at the Special Olympics in Austria, but they did not return empty handed.
Skill? Drive? Will to win? It's all of the above for Special Olympics athletes
Throughout the Special Olympics World Games, competitiveness and desire are heard and seen -- often. And at levels that can rival athletes in all realms.
Photos: Memorable moments from Special Olympics World Games
Special Olympics athletes showed the power of acceptance, inclusion and, as the Special Olympics oath states, "being brave in the attempt."
Photos: Chris Paynter saw a few of his favorite things in Austria
The U.S. alpine skier fulfilled a lifelong dream while competing at the Special Olympics World Winter Games -- and the dream wasn't to win a gold medal. But he did that too.
Rising from the ashes
Costa Rican snowshoe athlete Kenneth Ramirez got the surprise of his life Wednesday when his coach presented him with replicas of the medals he lost in his family's house fire.
Photos: Seeing double at the World Winter Games
For many athletes, competing in the Special Olympics World Winter Games meant traveling far from home -- and family. These competitors arrived in Austria with built-in support: their twin!